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September 11, 2011

 Ten years. Wasn’t it sometime nearer?  Aah!!  Indeed, it’s been 10 whole years.

9/11 is an immensely pivotal event in our generations’ time.  It remains etched in our minds and so fresh are the engravings that 9/11/2001(or 11/9/2001 by our Indian standards) seems to have happened just sometime back. Different images come up – The second plane crashing into the South tower. The two towers coming down .The shrieks of helpless New Yorkers. Osama Bin Laden. George Bush. Conspiracy theories.

9/11 will be analyzed by many experts on almost every media portal. On this blog, I intend to write about my personal ruminations, nothing else. Nothing Stellar.Just whatever comes when I think of 9/11

I had science exams the next day and most of my day went practicing biology diagrams. My Mother had cooked prawns for the first time in her life. It was cooked with the condiments of Chicken chilly and though not so fabulous, we relished it. Parents went to sleep early and I kept awake practicing diagrams. Being a politics fanatic, I switched on the TV to check the news( Not to check out FTV or RenTV -Believe me! 😉 ).  There it was- Aajtak showing news of the attack on first tower. And then there was the news of the second plane crashing into the second tower accompanied by visuals.I was astounded. I kept watching until a rebuke came from my mother. 9/11 gripped the mind so much that all the anxiety for the exam faded away.

Terror attacks were not very routine in those days as they have become in the present times. I had the memories of Taliban blokes from the IC814 hijack but I could not recall the knowledge of a full scale Terrorist attack like 9/11. The visual of the plane colliding with the South tower and the two towers horrified and there was an apprehension of such incident might being replicated in India also. Even on my own house.

I woke up early morning and Star World was reporting the incident. There was huge amount of dust and smoke and there were ambulance sirens. I went to school, gave my exam. Some of us ‘aware’ VII-D kids discussed, with our 12 year old wisdom, how terrible the event had been and how each one of us had got the news of it. Others who were burdened with the biology diagrams and the physics concepts had no clue such a thing had happened. .I came back and picked up Time of India. Cover page- TERRORISM STRIKES AMERICA with the picture of a car covered with dust. News reported that the sun was hard to spot amidst thick layer of dust and smoke. Everyone of our age was sensationalized and petrified. Elders were flabbergasted and wondered who did this to America, inside America, on the iconic symbol of American Capitalism, on the pride of New York City. By the evening, we knew that a certain man in Afghanistan called Osama Bin Laden had perpetrated the attacks.

As they say the world would never remain the same. Nor would air travel be. Nor would the sense of security be. Indians, along with other planet-mates, now knew the fear of terrorist attacks .Terror groups now had a hero and a model to replicate. Every person, however ignorant,  knew who Osama Bin Laden was and how he looked. Popstars would have craved for such meteoric rise to popularity, albeit a negative one. A month after 9/11, Indian Sikh brothers were attacked and two of them sadly died because they were confused with Saudis who also wore turbans and sported beards. “Arrey !!  Now even I am vulnerable!”

We had medieval history in our Social studies and it was excruciating to memorize Hideous terms like Jihad and Sijda, which were in our curriculum. My mother, who at that time monitored my studies, had given up the hopes of me memorizing these terms and reproducing them in exams. And I was miserable at mugging them up. But having read India Today ,newspapers and enthusiastically following Aajtak in those post 9/11 weeks , terms like Jihaad, Sijda and Kafir naturally flowed into my lexicon. And suddenly, every student in my section understood these terms.So did the rest of the planet.

George Walker Bush had taken up the presidency at the dawn of that year. But kids like me, still harboring the memories of Bill Clinton’s visit to India in 2000, had not updated our knowledge databases. I didn’t know his name. This man lacked charm and wasn’t as charismatic as Bill Clinton. Even elders often spoke of Bush 43 being an accidental president.  And there, after 9/11, He was everywhere portrayed as a farrago of Superman and Batman. He was heading the fight against between the Taliban (The guys who beat women and ask you to keep beards) and Bin Laden. USA headed the NATO Forces into Afghanistan and reasserted its hegemony. ‘Unipolar world’ was no longer a term I just memorized and did not comprehend.

9/11 also altered the way I saw Muslims. Before, the religion of any person hardly made notice. Immediately after 9/11,  it suddenly registered. Initial reaction was fear and caution. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, SIMI activists organized demonstrations hailing Osama bin-Laden as a “true mujahid,”I saw it on Aajtak. This, coupled with  9/11, instilled enormous fear inside me.  One of my Muslim friends called Osama all kinds of Saala and haramzaada, whereas another one hailed him as a Freedom Fighter. Thankfully, over the years, I have found very few who condone terrorist attacks. I don’t know exactly when but  not much time after 9/11, my bias/caution/fear dissipated and dissipated for Good. Thank God!

In 2005, Ramvilas Paswan surfaced with an Osama clone (HE was fat, a foot or probably a foot and a half shorter to the original Osama , with a much grotesque face and less dense beard) . The annoying Ramvilas had given the call for a Muslim CM of Bihar. The Clone Osama went to Muslim voters and publically dubbed Osama as “Freedom Fighter”. How 9/11 even influenced the Bihar elections!

Then there was an avalanche of Conspiracy theories. “Israelis did it”. “US Army did it”. “Bush did it to become popular”. “Aliens did it”. “Saudi and US did it”. “Zionists and US did it”.”9/11 : Ponzi Scheme” These Theories are frighteningly contagious. Some of my Muslim friends elaborated them to me -“There were no Jews in twin towers when the attack happened” ( Fact: Approximately 15% of the total victims of the World Trade Centre attacks were Jewish [1]) . I was dismissive and still continue to be same. But many continue to believe and I wish for their enlightenment soon. It was during the recitation of conspiracy theories that, for the first time, I heard of the term JEW, used in a pejorative manner.

9/11 stirred up bigotry. Extreme ideologies still thrive, probably in more horrendous proportions. Fear of terrorism still persists. US involvement in two wars has polarized the Muslim world against it and whipped up condemnation from intellectuals all over the globe. World in not a safer place; nor is India. In the last 10 years, India’s bosom has been assaulted by series of multiple blasts – beginning from the Parliament  attacks on Nov 13 and continues till date, latest being in Delhi last Wednesday. Then there is the Government’s pusillanimous attitude to mitigate terrorism. Terrorists strike anywhere anytime. Indians flinch and then continue.

At the time of 9/11, I was thin, struggled from  stuttering and had the first lining of  mustache appearing. Ten years later, I am a little plump, speak comfortably and have am fairly dogmatic.

On September 11, 2011, what do I do? President Obama is a great orator. I believe his eloquence will bring comfort to the Americans. I am looking forward to his speech. I won’t be going out in the wake of fresh bomb blasts in Delhi ( else, Dariyaganj Book Market  was the plan). Probably, have a drink- Cherishing  the rescue workers, the fire-fighters, the medical professionals and sympathising with the families of those who lost their dear ones to 9/11.

Love and Prayers for those who lost lives in 9/11 attacks

One Comment leave one →
  1. Elefant permalink
    December 7, 2011 4:18 am

    The year 2001 should not be repeated

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